Unlimited cell-phone plans, Skype and e-mail are changing the ways students communicate with their parents, and according to a recent study, it is causing problems with development and independence among college students.
According to a 2008 study by Barbara Hofer, co-author of The iConnected Parent, college students contact their parents 13 times per week, mainly via cell-phone calls and e-mail.
According to a recent Post and Courier article, Hofer said that sometimes students who communicate with their parents often are not being as autonomous and self-sufficient as they should be.
However, students argue that increased communication with their parents helps them stay in touch with their families and prevent homesickness.
Freshman business major Tommy Jewett said that his mom used text messaging as her main medium of communication. She texted him about once a day, usually in the evening, he said.
“It really doesn’t bother me,” Jewett said. “My family is very important to me. It doesn’t bug me to take two minutes to tell my mom about my day.”
Elyse Mosier, a sophomore nursing major, said she enjoys her daily 30-minute phone call from her parents.
“We basically talk about our days and catch up,” Mosier said. “It especially helps with the homesickness and reminds me that there’s a world outside of my own little TCU bubble.”
Antonio Pee, Moncrief hall director, said there was a distinct difference in communication now from when he was in college.
“There’s definitely been a shift from the days in the “60s and “70s when students would call home and check in on a Sunday.” Pee said. “We communicate more freely now, and there’s a definite new style.”
Pee said he knows students who talk to their parents up to five times per day.
“I can’t say if it’s for better or worse,” he said. “It definitely impedes when the parents don’t recognize that their child is an adult.”
According to Hofer’s study, problems arise when students turn to their parents for quick advice and solutions rather than seeking out answers on their own.
Conversely, parents use the technology to stay on top of their children’s assignments and monitor their social life.
Freshman journalism major Ryan Osborne said that under the right circumstances, he didn’t mind at all if his mom treated him like a child.
“I’ve called my mom and asked her for advice about laundry,” Osborne said.
While texting and talking on the phone remain popular means of communication, some students also said they use other technologies to talk with their parents.
Mark Neal, a freshman social work major, said he often uses games like Words with Friends to communicate with his family.
“It’s not a big issue to me and it actually kind of helps with homesickness,” he said.